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Issue 38 – 2019 – $8.95 incl. GST


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001 Drivers Seat

PETER BARNWELL TECH FOR TECH’S SAKE? Car manufacturers can’t help themselves when building a new model. They cram in as much “new technology’’ and as many “new features’’ as possible some of which is ill conceived at best or irrelevant at worst. They do it to attract buyers, many of whom, I am sure, can’t or don’t use the features. Even if they never use it, buyers seem to enjoy boasting about the kit in their car, taking pride in the tech heavy new models that are coming onto the market. Take for example, auto lock/unlock which might sound good until you walk near the vehicle with the “key’’ in your pocket and it automatically unlocks even if you aren’t getting in… lock, unlock, lock, unlock – it’s ridiculous. Then there’s the push button start…. wasn’t that what a simple key was for?

And I just love the “drive select’’ modes that automatically default to standard settings as soon as you switch off the vehicle which means you have to keep on re-selecting them all the time…. Same as some Bluetooth systems that “unsync’’ when you switch off the engine. Drives me nuts. Some of the advanced driver assist technology is similarly irrelevant and at times dangerous. Autonomous Emergency Braking for example has already activated of its own volition in quite a few cars I have driven of late implementing a panic stop for no apparent reason. It’s a bit of a worry and sure makes you pay attention to the rear view mirror. Which brings me to buses that are also starting to show signs of the same features frenzy enveloping cars especially in vehicles from newer manufacturers. It’s as if they are looking for ways of escalating the price or trying to outdo competitors with features to secure a sale.

driver assistance. The money is spent on engineering a “proper’ vehicle rather than on flash kit. A more rigorous validation system seems to apply to the application of new technology on buses and that’s a good thing. But one wonders how long it will be before individual air bags for each seat are mandated in all new buses. How long before AEB is mandated and blind spot monitoring, radar cruise, active lane keeping, active parking assist, adaptive headlights and so on. I can see the benefit of lane keeping assist but not ‘active’ lane keeping that takes control of the steering.

It’s downright dangerous as control is wrested from the driver with the vehicle making critical decisions based on sensor input. I can certainly see the benefit of reversing cameras and rear park assist systems as long as they give a wide angle view of what’s behind. Autonomous Emergency Braking has its place too, once again as long as it’s properly resolved and doesn’t go into panic mode at the merest hint of potential trouble. Any half decent bus driver should be all over these functions in any case. You can see where it’s all heading. Network all of these systems with advanced GPS and you have autonomous buses, cars, trucks, trains and so on. That’s what governments want and that’s what we might get _ in a decade or so. Hope we never see “driverless’’ planes though... that would be real scary. I am all for safety technology being

democratically applied to motor vehicle as long as the boffins have proven their systems to be foolproof and worthwhile. If it cuts the road toll then it’s worthwhile but how far down the high tech track are we prepared to go and how much are we prepared to pay? That will be borne out fairly soon I would imagine. Also in this issue we have a feats of interesting stories. We look at the rebirth of Custom Bus after nearly a decade of roller coaster corporate fortunes thanks to the arrival of Scott Dunn. Speaking of rebirths, we also have an interesting story on the Daewoo Bus brand and its rebirth on the Australian market with the backing of White Commercial Vehicles. While on the subject of industry matters I have an interview with Volvo Bus Australia’s new boss Lauren Downs and we take a look at a very green Volvo operator at Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain. As well as all that we road test Optare’s new MetroCity bus, we take a look at a Scania coach operator in Queensland and a whole lot more, so enjoy the read. Cheers and safe driving.

Accuse me of being a dinosaur but the rush to introduce many of these features has brought some to market not fully resolved and in some cases, pretty much useless. Luckily, there’s a more functional and pragmatic approach to bus manufacture which dictates a certain level of passenger safety and comfort and a certain level of


Issue 034

CONTENTS CONTACT DETAILS PO Box 7046 Warringah Mall NSW 2100


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After a disastrous collapse former Daewoo distributor Asia Motors found itself in the hands of the liquidators, but now a little over 12 months later a new Daewoo distributor for has been born. We sat down with Lou Riccardi to get the inside story on what happened and how Daewoo is rising again from the ashes of Asia Motors.


British bus maker Optare has burst on to the local bus scene and is trying hard to win over local operators with its advanced monocoque construction and a variety of bus sizes. We took the chance to road test the latest addition to the local Optare line up, the MetroCity, its lightweight, compact 10.8-metre city bus.

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Volvo is the leading brand in the Australian bus industry, easily outstripping its rivals in the market thanks to its long established recipe of efficiency, reliability, good running costs and service. Volvo has given itself a major advantage by appointing a new general manager for its Bus operation in Australia, who arguably has more knowledge and exposure to these future technologies than anyone else in the local industry. Editor Peter Barnwell sat down for a chat with the talented Lauren Downs.

Publisher Jon Thomson Editor in Chief Peter Barnwell Art Director Fiona Meadows Advertising Sales Jon Thomson Mobile: 0418 641 959 Contributing Writers Allan Whiting, Barry Flanagan, Sven Erik Lindsrand Contributing Photographers Mark Bean, Cristian Brunelli, Jan Glovac

Coach & Bus Magazine is published under licence by Transport Publishing Australia. and is distributed to road transport professionals, fleets, business professionals and the industry throughout Australia. All material contained herein including text, photography, design elements and format are copyright and cannot be reproduced by any means without the written permission of the publisher. Grayhaze Pty.Ltd. is a member of the Copyright Agency Limited (1800 066 844).


It takes a special person to be a tour coach driver and Terry Sullivan owner of Terry’s Tours is just that. In part he is at various times a travel agent, host, entertainer, guide, chief cook and bottle washer, problem solver, cleaner, fountain of knowledge and medico. We take a look at Terry and his tour operation.


The near pristine environment around the famed Cradle Mountain in Central Tasmania is not a place you want to sully with emissions from diesel engines, which is why a local Tasmanian bus operator has purchased some clean and enviro friendly Volvos for tourism transport in the region. Editor Peter Barnwell takes. a look at the innovative operation.


If you thought Usain Bolt was the only star sprinter in the world these days then think again, Mercedes Benz has launched the latest version of its Sprinter, a star in the mini bus market around the globe and its headed down under in the near future. Peter Barnwell takes a look at the Three Pointed Star’s latest Sprinter.


In what is a bigger comeback than Dame Nellie Melba, Custom Bus has gone from an insolvent shell of a company to a reborn. Coach & Bus dropped into the new Custom factory in Sydney’s west to sit down with Scott Dunn, the man who bought the operation at the 11th hour and has turned its fortunes around in just a few months.




Editor Peter Barnwell has his say on the growing technology tidal wave and what it might mean in the bus world.

04 UP FRONT We wrap up the key local and international bus and coach news that affects us as a global industry and where we are heading.

Editorial contributions are welcome for consideration. Contact the Editor or Publisher for guidelines, fees and level of interest. All unsolicited manuscripts must be accompanied by a stamp, addressed envelope for their return. We will not be held responsible for material supplied electronically.


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We drive Jaguar’s F Pace SUV.

Paul Clitheroe’s latest advice on finances.



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VOLVO HAS DELIVERED the first hybrid bus to what will be the first hybrid bus fleet in Australia with a hybrid Euro 6 Volvo B5Ls delivered to Latrobe Valley Bus Lines in Morwell last week. The addition of the first of the eight hybrid buses to Latrobe Valley Bus Lines (LVBL) fleet, based in the Gippsland town of Morwell, one of Australia’s major energy producing towns, through its infamous brown coal fuelled power stations, will be a step toward creating a cleaner environment in the town. Volvo Buses president, Håkan Agnevall was on hand in Morwell for the handover and launch 004

of the first of the eight buses was launched at an event with in attendance. LVBL has been in the bus business for more than fifty years and has carved a reputation as environmentally conscious and a leader in implementing new technologies. It was amongst the first operators in Australia to introduce Euro 6 buses, well ahead of legislation and is now upping the ante with eight hybrid buses. LVBL started trialling hybrid technology in early 2016 in a bid to reduce its environmental footprint, particularly given the region’s history of heavily polluting power

stations. It decided to partner with Volvo to provide the first “clean” bus route in Australia. The company said the trial was extremely successful, providing fuel, noise and environmental savings. Volvo says its hybrid buses deliver up to 40 per cent savings in fuel and carbon dioxide emissions and cut nitrogen oxides and particulates by as much as half compared to diesel buses. General manager for Volvo Bus Australia, Lauren Downs said Volvo and its local dealer partner CMV are thrilled to be part of the environmental project with Latrobe Valley Bus Lines and

look forward to supporting and delivering attractive, innovative and environmentally friendly transport solutions to the Latrobe Valley. “Latrobe Valley Bus Lines shares a number of common values with Volvo, including passion for what we do, innovation, trust, diversity, safety and care for the environment,” said Lauren Downes. “When two companies come together with such common values amazing things can happen and the launch of the first Volvo Euro 6 hybrid in the country with LVBL is definitely symbolic of that,” she said. Volgren in Melbourne is building the low floor bodies on the Volvo


B5L chassis, with the low floors chosen to improve passenger access and flow. This makes Volgren the first Australian bus bodybuilder in the country to successfully deliver a bus body on the new Euro 6 Volvo B5LH Hybrid. The bodies for the Euro 6 Hybrids delivered to LBVL were designed and engineered by Volgren in partnership with Volvo, Michael Kearney, Volgren’s product engineering manager said the completed hybrid bus breaks new ground in bus body design and manufacturing assembly processes. “From very early on we knew

this wasn’t going to be your average build.” “Our engineering team worked closely with the Volvo development team based in Sweden; sharing design concepts and refining the design of both the body and chassis,” Kearney said. These meetings continued weekly all the way through to completion of the prototype unit, making certain that each stage of the design was validated and complied with Australian Design Rules. “The design and construction of the Euro 6 Hybrid bus is quite different to a traditional bus, with high voltage battery packs,

radiator, air compressor and associated equipment all mounted in the roof,” Kearney explained. With the majority of Hybrid components in the roof, those responsible for engineering, manufacturing and production had to rethink the assembly line. In fact, Kearney said, innovative changes were developed to accommodate the new build process to enable the Euro 6 Hybrid to fit within the factory processes normally dedicated to the assembly of diesel buses. Kearney said the build for the Euro 6 was an exciting challenge for Volgren’s engineering and

production teams, at a time when the industry appears to be on the verge of a significant transformation. “Environmentally friendly vehicles are becoming an ever-increasing focus for society, and products such as the Euro 6 hybrid place us in a great position to support the bus industry in their realisation, and pursuit to save up to 40% in fuel, and cut emissions by half.” That’s a sentiment supported by a recent order of 50 Hybrids for CDC in Victoria, a tipping point moment Volgren CEO Peter Dale has seen coming. “We’ve long held the view that the next five to ten years will bring about more change than the bus industry has undergone in the last 30 years. We’re seeing that change all across the world. And now it’s starting in Australia and being led by forward thinking bus operators such as Latrobe Valley Bus Lines and CDC Victoria,” Dale said. “Volgren has always specialised in the design, development and application of new technologies. We’ve introduced many revolutionary bus solutions to the market – starting with aluminium. We pride ourselves in providing engineering solutions that meet the developing needs of our customers, and we’re more than ready to take on the challenge of developing the best possible bus body for the Euro 6 Hybrid.” “We are extremely excited to introduce the new Volvo hybrids into our fleet,” said the managing director of Latrobe Valley Bus Lines, Rhonda Renwick. “We have closely followed the progress of the build which started in January this year. It has been a fantastic team effort by everyone involved, following the journey from Volvo in Sweden - to Volgren - to the Latrobe Valley, in Victoria,” she said. 005

BRISBANE STARTS BILLION DOLLAR BUS PROJECT BRISBANE COUNCIL is forging ahead with its plans for the Brisbane Metro, a key part of their aim to deliver Australia’s most modern public transport system. Budget for the project is AU$944 million which includes the metro-style vehicles. Brisbane Metro will be a highfrequency public transport system that the council says will cut travel times, reduce Central Business District bus congestion and improve public transport services to the suburbs. Brisbane Council expects procurement activities for Brisbane Metro to commence mid-2018. Detailed design and construction of Brisbane Metro is planned to commence in 2019, with metro services commencing in 2023. Based on assessments undertaken as part of the business case, Brisbane Metro is expected to cost $944 million. As part of the 2017-18 Budget, Council announced funding for two-thirds of the project’s capital cost. In May 2018, the Federal Government confirmed a $300 million funding commitment to Brisbane Metro in the 2018-19 Federal Budget. Infrastructure Australia, the nation’s independent infrastructure advisor, listed the project as a “High Priority” in March. Council is committed to funding the balance. The word metro describes the distinctive style, high-quality and high-capacity aspects of the vehicle, as well as the high-frequency (turnup-and-go) style of service, which is reliable and will reduce travel times. The project will introduce a new 006

fleet of 60 metro style vehicles, bi-articulated with three passenger compartments and a length of approximately 25 metres with capacity for up to 150 people. The chassis is expected to have four axles, running on rubber tyres. It is expected the front and rear axles will be steerable. A distinctive style and branding will be critical to the design of the body and passenger experience, with at least four double doors to improve boarding and alighting times. The floor will be low to allow the metro vehicles to share platform infrastructure with the existing bus fleet. In addition to new vehicles, the Brisbane Metro project will deliver a range of significant infrastructure improvements, including a new underground station and tunnelling

to provide improved performance of the public transport network. With this project Brisbane remedies critical bottlenecks in the inner city and provides a solution to Brisbane’s bus congestion and capacity issues. The project comprises a turnup-and-go metro style network across 21 kilometres of existing busway that links Eight Mile Plains, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) and University of Queensland (UQ) Lakes busway stations and all busway stations in between. With two metro routes operating every three minutes in peak periods, Brisbane Metro will deliver a network of turn-up-andgo services linking the suburbs with the inner city. Brisbane Metro uses the busway alongside

other bus services. Some highfrequency bus routes will continue to operate on the busway, providing a network of suburbsto-city services for residents across Brisbane. Brisbane Metro was first announced in 2016 as a solution to the current challenges facing Brisbane’s bus network, which has reached its capacity at many inner city locations. In May 2017, Council released the Brisbane Metro Business Case, following a 12 month detailed assessment of the benefits, costs and impacts of delivering the project. According to the Council the Business Case confirms Brisbane Metro is a value-for-money investment in its public transport network that will provide significant benefits for both the city and the region.

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VOLGREN FLYS WITH SKYBUS SKYBUS, the company that operates the ubiquitous red airport transfer buses in Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Hobart and most recently across the ditch in Auckland, has ordered 15 new Volgren low floor 12.5 metre Optimus/ MAN RC-02 buses which are set to be delivered from February next year. Volgren will start constructing the new buses for Skybus in October at the company’s Melbourne facility as Skybus looks to satisfy the surging demand for affordable airport transfers particularly at Melbourne Airport where growth has risen enormously in the past year. “SkyBus is responding to increased growth and demand by


maintaining a modern fleet of buses and adding more routes to suburbs and key regional hubs across Victoria,” according to Skybus CEO Adam Begg. “These 15 new Volgren busses will make a significant contribution to our fleet, and an even more important contribution to creating jobs and opportunities in Melbourne’s industrial heartland in the south east,” he added. Volgren CEO, Peter Dale said all 15 buses would be built in Dandenong and locally engineered, securing jobs and supporting the growing supply chain of local businesses.” “Volgren is now responsible for close to two in every three route buses sold in Australia and

this latest order from Skybus is another great endorsement of the high quality buses we’ve been designing and manufacturing for more than three decades.” “Our first delivery to Skybus was in 2002 and we’re delighted to be given the opportunity to build on that partnership by delivering another 15 buses,” Peter said. The national bus sales and service manager for Australian MAN distributor, Penske Commercial Vehicles, Clint Stoermer said that MAN and Penske Commercial Vehicles have built a long-standing relationship with SkyBus, which began with the acquisition of the articulated Super Shuttle buses back in 2010. “This relationship has been

further strengthened by Skybus’s most recent order for 15 route buses built on MAN’s LE19.320 RC2 city bus chassis, which boasts the proven reliability of the predecessor bus chassis models that have already accumulated nearly one million kilometres,” said Stoermer. “The MAN LE19.320 RC2 city bus chassis features the unequalled performance and reliability of MAN’s whisper-quiet, powerful and fuel-efficient 10.5-litre Euro 5 city bus engine,” he added. “This outstanding driveline, combined with MAN’s city bus chassis, makes for a pleasant, safe and reliable shuttle service that SkyBus is renowned for providing,” Stoermer concluded.

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OPTARE BUS DISTRIBUTOR, Bus Corp Oceania (BCO) and Bonluck distributor Bus and Coach Sales Australasia (BCSA) have announced a tie up for sales and service support for both Optare and Bonluck across the country and in NZ. As part of the arrangement BCO will become the Bonluck dealer for NSW, Victoria, SA, WA and New Zealand, while BCSA will become the dealer for Optare in Queensland and Northern NSW handling sales and service for the brand in both regions. The announcement of the expansion of the Optare and Bonluck dealer networks follows the recent establishment of BCO’s New South Wales office at Smithfield in Sydney’s west and comes as the company opens its new sales and support office in the Auckland suburb of Wiri where Joe Crickett has joined the team to manage BCO operations for New Zealand. According to Bus Corp Oceania general manager, Jason Pecotic, the appointment of BCSA as Optare’s


dealer in Queensland and Northern NSW and BCO’s sign on as the Bonluck dealer across the rest of Australia and NZ underlines the commitment to both Optare and Bonluck as serious players in the bus and coach markets down under. “BCSA has a long history in the bus and coach industry with a strong reputation for customer service and is ideally situated at Yatala near Brisbane to service the major Brisbane and Gold Coast markets as well as the larger Queensland and Northern NSW markets,” said Jason Pecotic. “BCSA’s extensive industry knowledge and experience will deliver peace of mind to all our Optare customers while BCSA’s in house workshop is fitted with the most advanced equipment and staffed by industry’s leading technicians,” he added. “Between them BCSA’s directors Rodd Hood and Athol McKinnon have over 80 years of experience in the bus and transport industry and they both have a passion for the bus and coach industry that

is second to none and that will be invaluable as Optare builds its base in Queensland and across Australia.” “BCSA’s vision is to be an innovative leading supplier of quality passenger vehicles with its core values being quality, safety, reliability and affordability which aligns perfectly with Optare.” Similarly, Rodd Hood and Athol McKinnon say the tie enthuses them up with BCO and Optare as well as BCO becoming the Bonluck dealer across Southern Australia. “Optare is such an exciting and innovative brand with so many clever features including their lightweight designs and we are very enthusiastic about expanding Optare’s footprint in Queensland,” said Rodd Hood. “Athol and I have also been intimately involved over the past decade in the design of Bonluck buses to ensure they are built for the unique conditions and climate in Australia and NZ,” he added. “We are pleased to be working closely with BCO to establish an extensive sales aftersales support network for the Bonluck brand across Australia and NZ and handling Optare in Queensland and Northern NSW,” he added. Since start up in mid 2017 BCO has grown from its base at its head office in Melbourne and has seen a surge of interest in the Optare product since its debut at the Bus and Coach Expo on the Gold Coast last September. Jason Pecotic said it has quickly become apparent that there is strong interest across Australia in the Optare product and its

lightweight, fuel-efficient qualities. “Just as BCO has expanded its operations in NSW, its clear that many Queensland fleets are also considering Optare purchases for their operations and the agreement with Rodd, Athol and the BCSA team will enable us to better service those customers,” said Jason. “BCSA will have Optare demonstrator buses available from its Yatala operation for Queensland fleets to trial on their own routes enabling them to benchmark the Optare buses against their current vehicles to see the efficiency gains that can be made,” he said. Jason Pecotic revealed that on a recent visit to the Bonluck factory in China he saw the full range of products being built to specification for our conditions including luxury coaches for Australia, articulated buses for NZ and nine-meter city buses being built for Australia and NZ along with coach bodies being built on European chassis for both Australia and NZ. “Bonluck a dedicated specialist bus and luxury coach builder building more than 5000 vehicles a year and basically, every bus and coach option they have is now available and from BCO’s perspective we are very excited to be able to offer every combination available alongside Optare product,” said Jason Pecotic. The appointment of BCSA as the Optare dealer in Queensland and Northern NSW comes on the back of the first Optare deliveries of a 114 bus contract for Tranzit in the New Zealand capital of Wellington.





LIGHT WEIGHT AND VERSATILITY = FLEXIBILITY INTRODUCING THE VERSATILE NEW METROCITY Versatility is the key word with Optare’s new MetroCity offering a range of sizes to suit your routes from 10.1 through 10.8 to 11.5 metres and seating for 25 to 44 with total passenger capacity of up to 60. MetroCity can be tailored and configured for tight routes while Optare’s highly efficient and versatile monocoque design ensures light weight, fuel efficient with powertrains from Mercedes Benz, Cummins and Allison as well as advanced electric models. Optare is backed by one of the largest automotive groups in the world and brings more than a century of bus knowledge and expertise to the road. Why not follow the lead of New Zealand’s Tranzit Group, which has successfully deployed 114 versatile new MetroCitys in and around Wellington. Contact Bus Corp Oceania to arrange a trial of the new Optare MetroCity.

CONTACT NZ: Jason Pecotic 0800 OPTARE (678273) NSW, QLD: Francis Burdock 0484 000 161 VIC, SA, TAS, NT, WA: Bram Kefford 0477 000 995 AUCKLAND: 20 Hobill Avenue, Wiri. MELBOURNE: 9 Sullivan Street, Moorabbin. SYDNEY: 331 Woodpark Road, Smithfield. ENQUIRY:


MAN BREAKS THE 500HP BARRIER WITH EURO 6 COACH CHASSIS MAN HAS ANNOUNCED that it has introduced, what it claims is the first 500hp, Euro 6c engine to the Australian bus market with the launch of its RR4 CO 26.500 Euro 6c three-axle coach chassis. MAN says the first of the CO 26.500 chassis was delivered to Cooma Coaches in the NSW Monaro with the unit earmarked to travel the NSW ski fields. The company says the MAN D2676 LOH37 engine combines power with efficiency, offering fuel savings while boasting higher horsepower. Clint Stoermer, national sales and service manager – bus, for the Australian MAN distributor, Penske Commercial Vehicles said the company was delighted to be able

to bring MAN’s latest and most powerful Euro 6c offering to the Australian market,” said. “The RR4 CO 26.500 coach chassis is equipped with MAN’s Euro 6c, 12.4L D26 in-line, sixcylinder engine, which produces a huge 500hp at 1,800 rpm and 2,500 Nm of torque from as low down as 930 rpm,” said Clint Stoermer. “When this is combined with its 12-speed Tipmatic transmission and MAN’s hypoid axle, the drive provides more than enough power for any application including the ski fields of NSW,” he added. “Not only more powerful, the Euro 6c engine is also expected to provide a fuel consumption saving compared to its predecessor.” Penske says the cost savings

don’t stop at fuel efficiency. The RR4 CO 26.500 also boasts a 140,000km or 18-month engine oil drain interval, making a clear case for superior cost savings when operating an MAN. In addition to improved efficiency and power, the RR4 CO 26.500 also features MAN’s industryleading active safety systems. “Safety is also a key factor in high speed touring coaches and in this respect the MAN RR4 is unequalled,” he said. “Not only is it equipped with an electronic braking system (EBS) and electronic stability program (ESP) which includes roll over protection (ROP), the RR4 CO 26.500 chassis also features additional driver assistance

systems more commonly found in high end passenger cars, such as adaptive cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring, lane guard departure warning, and emergency brake assist. And that is all offered as standard,” Stoermer said “This chassis meets all the requirements that our coach customers demand: performance, efficiency, low whole-of-life costs, and maximum safety,” he concluded.



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HANNOVER HIGHLIGHTS IN ADVANCE WHAT TO EXPECT at the world’s most important trade show for transport, logistics and mobility. It’s coming at us at a rate of knots and is a must visit for those in the know. The 67th IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover, Germany is scheduled for September 20-27 and promises plenty to interest everyone in the commercial vehicle industry eager to get a heads up on what’s on the way. This year, apart from new model trucks and buses, the focus will be on digitisation, connectivity, automated driving and alternative powertrains says the new president of Germany’s Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), Bernhard Mattes. The VDA, organiser of the Hannover Show, has already telegraphed to the press some


show highlights with more information provided in a keynote address by Herr Mattes. “The digitization of traffic opens up completely new opportunities for making mobility smoother and more efficient in large metropolitan areas and beyond. That reduces emissions. Most importantly, digitization, connectivity and automated driving will bring about a quantum jump in road safety,” he said. “Furthermore, digitization can contribute to even better connection of the various transport modes within the transport and logistics chains.’’ “This is necessary because we need the interplay of all types of transport in order to cope with the increasing volumes of freight,” Herr Mattes explained. The VDA president drew

attention to the advantages of digitization, using platooning as an example. “The Truck Platooning Challenge has proved the technical feasibility of platooning. Now it is being tested in real-life logistics operation. We find that it can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 output by up to ten per cent. The next step is now to deploy mixed platoons with trucks from different makers. That will ensure the general applicability of the approach.” Mattes emphasized, “One essential prerequisite for digitization is the existence of an appropriate digital infrastructure. Innovative mobility offers will only be possible if there is coverage with the latest mobile communication technology on federal trunk roads and in the network of less major roads.” Electric mobility would also be a key theme at the IAA, Herr Mattes said. “There are many openings for deployment, particularly for vans and urban buses but also in local distribution using battery-electric vehicles up to 26 tonnes. The IAA will therefore also give visitors an opportunity to experience electric mobility on a test track.’’ However, the possibilities must not be overlooked that are offered for especially environmentally friendly transport, for example by natural gas, particularly in metropolitan areas. Mattes added, “E-fuels synthesized using renewable electricity open up the prospect of completely CO2neutral operation also for trucks

and buses. They exert their effects not only in newly registered vehicles, but also throughout the vehicle fleet. That brings about considerable CO2 reductions.” Herr Mattes stressed, “We are facing important political preparations in climate protection policy. The commercial vehicle industry wishes to make its contribution in this area. Yet the Manufacturers cannot overcome the challenges on their own. An integrated approach is necessary involving vehicle production, vehicle use, fuels and the infrastructure in equal measure.” He went on to say that fuel consumption accounts for over a quarter of the total costs of ownership for a long-distance truck. Unlike the market for passenger cars, the market for commercial vehicles is driven solely by efficiency. “Low consumption is therefore an important competitive advantage on the market, Mattes said. Mattes emphasized, “On the commercial vehicle markets, the outlook for 2018 as a whole is also largely positive, especially given the healthy state of the global economy. No one is going to overlook the risks here – especially the political risks – and that includes the effects of Brexit. In important regions there is the threat of isolationism and protectionism. So it is all the more imperative that we continue to back free and fair trade and continuation of the negotiations between the large trading nations.”


UNDER DEVELOPMENT THE US DEFENCE Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded advanced internal combustion engine technology company, LiquidPiston Inc., an additional US$2.5 million to continue development of its 30kW X4 rotary diesel engine prototype, bringing DARPA’s total funding of the engine technology to US$6M. LiquidPiston received this subsidy after meeting the objectives for Phase I of the program, which had focused on the clean sheet design of the four rotor engine and demonstrating its structural integrity while operating under compression ignition of diesel fuel. LiquidPiston engineers presented

a development update on the engine at the SAE International WCX World Congress Experience in Detroit in April this year. LiquidPiston’s X engines are non-Wankel rotary embodiments of the company’s High Efficiency Hybrid Cycle (HEHC). In contrast to other rotary engines, the X engine has a higher compression ratio, and a stationary conical/ spherical combustion chamber suitable for direct injection (DI) and compression ignition (CI). As with the Atkinson or Miller cycles, the X engine takes advantage of over-expansion. This is done by changing the locations of intake and exhaust

ports asymmetrically which allows for the extraction of more energy during the expansion stroke. LiquidPiston’s X engine essentially inverts the Wankel

engine. While a Wankel has a three -sided rotor and a twolobed housing, the X engine has a two-lobed rotor in a three-sided housing. The X engine captures the main advantages of the Wankel (high power-to-weight ratio; simplicity; and inherent balance), but also addresses the design deficiencies of the older engine. Because the combustion chamber is located in the stationary housing with most of the gas displaced during compression into this chamber, the X is uniquely suitable for high compression ratio operation with direct injection and compression ignition. The combustion chamber can take any geometry and be optimized for surface-to-volume ratio. The apex seals of the X are located within the stationary housing. Because they do not move with the rotor, the seals do not experience centrifugal forces. Lubrication is simpler, with oil consumption lower. Phase II also lays a foundation for future work. When development of the fully packaged engine is complete, the 30kW X4 engine is expected to weigh just 13.6 kg and fit into a 20cm x20cm x20cm box, while achieving 45 per cent brake thermal efficiency—approximately an order of magnitude smaller and lighter than traditional piston diesel engines, and also 30 per cent more efficient. 015

CDC TO PAY $110 MILION FOR SYDNEY’S FOREST COACH LINES SINGAPORE BASED Comfort Delgro Corporation (CDC) announced a major buy into the Sydney bus market revealing it will pay $110 million to acquire Forest Coach Lines, which operates from Terrey Hills in Sydney’s north as well as in the Coffs Coast region on the NSW North Coast. The acquisition of FCL Holdings, which operates Forest Coach Lines, represents a major buy in to the burgeoning Australian public transport industry and in particular the growing Sydney market. The acquisition is still pending the approval of regulatory


authorities but is expected to be approved in the near future. As part of the deal, CDC will also acquire $24.45 million worth of depot land and bus assets separately as part of the company’s aggressive expansion plan. This includes two freehold FCL depot sites at Terrey Hills and in Toormina near Coffs Harbour, which together account for $15.45 million. Forest Coach Lines was Sydney’s oldest privately run family bus and coach operation and has been based in Sydney’s north since it was founded by the Royle family in 1930 when its patch was largely

semi rural. CDC’s bid for Forest if successful will be its second largest Australian investment, behind its 2008 $149.2 million purchase of the Kefford Group. The company’s bid for FCl follows three large scale Australian investments so far this year by CDC, including the recent $9million purchase of outer Sydney Region 11 operator, Coastal Liner Coaches, the April $30 million acquisition of Patient Transport Pty Ltd and the $32.2 million investment in buying Tullamarine Bus Lines in Melbourne. CDC, which has had operations in

Australia since 2005, is a massive public transport juggernaut and one of the biggest bus operators in the world with a fleet of more than 42,700 buses. According to CDC’s MD and group CEO, Yang Ben Seng, Australia has been a key investment target for the company because of the transparent and stable regulatory environment. “Australia also has strong growth prospects and proximity to Singapore and with this acquisition we will add on two new footprints to our NSW operations,” said Yang Ben Seng.


BUS CORP OCEANIA (BCO) has announced it has further expanded its growing portfolio of bus brands with the addition of Higer and its 28-+1 seat H7 model to the company’s bus line up. The Higer H7 is the latest incarnation of Higer’s small bus, which has enjoyed strong sales success in Australia in the past with previous distributors. BCO general manager Jason Pecotic said that the return of the Higer brand answers a strong market demand for a well priced and economical to run 28 +1 seat bus with a proven driveline and credentials for a range of operations. “The return of Higer is something I am very proud of personally as I was directly involved in first bringing Higer to Australia almost a decade ago with WMC,” said Jason Pecotic. “Higer’s well proven formula of a Cummins engine mated with an Allison automatic transmission and well established design and construction has won friends in Australia and NZ in the past and existing customers have indicated

they want to buy more in the future,” he said. At this stage BCO will only be distributing the H7 as a compliment to its Optare route bus range and the full size Bonluck buses and coaches it sells in conjunction with BCSA. BCO will provide full back and service for the Higer H7 through its network of dealers and service providers in Australia and NZ. BCO has been distributing the Optare bus range in Australia and New Zealand since August 2017 and recently entered an agreement with BCSA to act as dealers for Bonluck buses and coaches in NSW. Victoria, SA, WA and Tasmania. BCSA is now also acting as sales and service dealers for Optare in Queensland and Northern NSW. Featuring better packaging and a clever passenger configuration, the Higer H7 boasts seating for 28 passengers plus the driver, three more than its Fuso rival while maintaining similar external dimensions. With greater passenger capacity

the Higer H7 utilises a full 2+2 seat configuration and a centre aisle which is 12 per cent wider than the ADR requirement with a seat pitch which is at least five per cent greater than Fuso Powered by a 3.8 litre Cummins ISF engine mated to an Allison automatic transmission the Higer H7 meets full Euro 5 standards. The Cummins common rail fuel turbo diesel features electronic injectors for excellent startability, low noise, low emissions and fuelefficient performance. The engine also features a number of key noise reduction features, such as positioning of its gear train at the rear of the engine and the use of composite oil pan and valve covers for reduced NVH and better integrity. The Cummins ISF has been designed for low weight and high power outputs, targeting best-inclass power-to-weight ratios. Major engine components such as the cylinder block and head boast 20 per cent less mass than traditional designs with no reduction

in strength, giving a competitive engine weight of just 280kg for the ISF 3.8 used in the H7. The Higer H7 Cummins 3.8litre ISF power plant produces maximum power of 115 kW @ 2600rpm and maximum torque of 550 Nm @ 1300rpm, which translates to 5 per cent more power and 17 per cent more torque than the current Fuso E4 engine in the Rosa. Higer’s use of Cummins engines across it’s range offers a major advantage for Australian bus operators with nationwide service back up through Cummins’ network of service operations across the country from major capital cities to remote regional centres. Munro will be supplied standard with the Allison 1000 series automatic transmission, which will also have the full back up of Allison Transmission’s national service network along with a full five year transmission warranty, an Australian first for the bus industry. 017

Industry News

A disastrous collapse of its Malaysian based body builder left former Daewoo bus distributor Asia Motors in the hands of the liquidators, but now a little over 12 months since its demise a new distributor for Daewoo has been born and has started operation. We sat down with Lou Riccardi to get the inside story on what happened and how Daewoo is rising again from the ashes of Asia Motors. 018 019


ate in 2016 the alarm bells started to go off at Asia Motors, the then distributor for Daewoo Bus. Those alarm bells were going off because of increasing problems at its primary body builder, UBC in Malaysia. The sense of a growing crisis was making Ian and Bruce Campbell, who had run Asia Motors since 1963, along with their CFO Lou Riccardi, increasingly anxious. Demands for up front payments, longer production delays and other issues and finally the fact that UBC was put into administration saw Bruce Campbell jump on a flight to Kuala Lumpur to see what could be salvaged. Asia Motors had close to 20 buses in build at UBC in various stages of completion.


When Campbell arrived at the factory site in Malaysia the sight that met him was devastating. The factory was virtually empty. All of Asia’s Daewoo chassis were gone and the company was many millions of dollars out of pocket. The result of that reality at the UBC plant eventually triggered the liquidation of Asia Motors and the life’s work of the Campbell brothers was gone. The Campbell’s faced the music and liquidated the company and lost a whole lot more as the liquidator had to sell up the company assets to meet the outstanding creditors. Out of that adversity and personal tragedy there wasn’t much joy for the Campbells. Attempts to find an investor

to save the 54-year-old operation came to nothing but in liquidating the assets of Asia Motors, another company came into the picture, firstly in buying the parts operation and after that purchasing the IPs. That company was Whites Diesels Australia, one of the leading after market parts suppliers for the truck and bus market in Australia. Whites initially purchased the parts operation and then moved quickly to secure the IPs. This included the engineering expertise, the ADR compliance information and all of the other knowledge from within Asia Motors. Daewoo was pretty well established in the Australian market having entered the

market in 2004 and having sold around 500 in various specs from school buses in South Australia to route buses in Sydney’s south west and everything in between, including coaches and charter vehicles. Daewoo was introduced to Australia by Asia Motors in 2004, mainly using bodies built in Malaysia by UBC but also with some local bodies as well. The fact is 500 buses is a reasonable critical mass that Daewoo would like to preserve and build upon and which Whites CEO, Klaus Hahn saw as an opportunity for his company to use to expand from a parts supplier to be an OEM representative. Some negotiation with Korea followed and Whites secured the rights to Daewoo

Bus and formed a new, wholly owned subsidiary, Whites Commercial Vehicles to handle the task. Hahn’s first appointment was Lou Riccardi to the post of general manger of the new operation. Whites also contracted Bruce Campbell to handle all the ADR compliance and Ian Campbell to handle technical and engineering requirements. Having also purchased the parts operation the new company had a cash flow until new buses could be sourced, body builders engaged and slots booked and orders taken from the bus buying community in Australia and New Zealand. The important aspect about Whites involvement was that it would bring new

and strong financial backing to the Daewoo operation ensuring the bus industry could have renewed confidence in the brand. With ADR permits and import licences and authorities in place White Commercial Vehicles was now in a position to order new chassis and to book slots with body builders. Lou Riccardi says the new company will still pursue some off shore body builds but says that it won’t be in Malaysia, instead concentrating on another Asian country as well as local body builders here in Australia. He admits the company has some new projects under investigation with some interesting product potential and says they are actively pursuing those along with preparing for the normal line up of Daewoo 021

buses and coaches ranging from the 10 metre BH090 through the 12 metre BH 117L, BS 120SB,and 14 metre BH 117L3 in either school bus or coach configuration or the BH120SN route bus. Although Daewoo distribution has changed hands Riccardi was at pains to point out that the buses maintain the same high standards and quality which helped them to win favour in this market with a variety of operators. “They still use Doosan power and are mated to Allison automatics and the quality is everything that we have come to expect from Korean engineering, “ said Riccardi. “A lot of the same expertise and knowledge of the Daewoo bus brand is still here with my long association with the brand, in fact 28 years with Asia Motors and other company people joining us here, including Greg Gall who heads up our Daewoo bus parts

operation as he did in the past,” he added In the immediate term Riccardi’s aim is to get the Daewoo product back on the approved list with the NSW public transport panel. “I don’t see that as a huge hurdle we will be marketing the same buses and if anything we offer even greater back up and after sales service resources than was available when Asia Motors was around,” said Riccardi. “Whites brings a national network of seven parts and service offices around the country and a store of knowledge within Whites which has been built up over he past half century of operation in the local bus and also in the truck industry. “That network is

something that we did not have in the Asia Motors days and that will go a long way to building confidence in Daewoo again, not to mention the strong financial resources behind Whites,” Riccardi added. While the entire Malaysian debacle that claimed the once proud Asia Motors and pretty much the life’s work of the Campbell Brothers is something that no one can rejoice in, the fact is White’s buy in to Daewoo Bus in Australia has enabled the phoenix to rise from the ashes. The reborn Korean bus brand with a strong distributor, will be something that might cause other brands some sleepless nights, we certainly think they will.

DAEWOO BACKGROUND Daewoo Bus is a fascinating case study in corporate vertical integration and pragmatism. Until the Asia Economic Crisis in 2002 Daewoo was part of the massive Daewoo Industrial Corporation but the financial meltdown that followed the crisis meant that Daewoo and its many components would need to be broken up and sold. Daewoo Cars, already closely aligned with General Motors was purchased by the company’s Australian subsidiary GM-Holden. Indian conglomerate Tata, Daewoo construction equipment was sold off and became Doosan. The ship building business was sold to Korean interests while the Daewoo Bus found an unusual suitor in the form of Mr Sunghak Baik. Mr Bail is the man behind Korean hat maker Yung An. Mr Baik established Young An Hats in 1959 and has built the business into a multi-million dollar operation which today manufacturers close to 800 million hats with revenue in excess of $AUD284 million globally each year from its headquarters in the Korean city of Buchon. Young An is a private company and it has manufacturing facilities in the United States, Mexico, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Vietnam sales operations in Canada, United States, Mexico, and Hong Kong. When Young An bought Daewoo Bus in 2002 Mr Baik main motivation was accessing a supply of buses to transport his workers to and from his factories. However Daewoo Bus has grown a life of its own under Mr Baik’s stewardship and has become a strong and vibrant profit centre in its own right and a valuable contributor to the corporate coffers. Likewise Mr Baik shocked the materials handling industry when he decided to buy the Clark Forklift Company in the USA making a cash bid for the company because he needed forklifts for his hat operation. Clark has also been turned into a major contributor to the business. You have to take your hat off to Mr Baik he is certainly brimming over with business expertise and acumen and its application to Daewoo Bus has saved the brand and with Whites Commercial Vehicles on the job in Australia and New Zealand there is likely to a lot more Daewoos plying Australian roads in the future.


Road Test

CITY LIGHTS British bus maker Optare has burst on to the local bus scene and is trying hard to win over local operators with its advanced monocoque construction and a variety of bus sizes. We took the chance to road test the latest addition to the local Optare line up, the MetroCity, its lightweight, compact 10.8-metre city bus.


he days of public transport operators demanding a one size fits all bus that handles express routes in peak hours, school bus runs, suburban feeder routes and everything in between are all but over. The new paradigm is much more about choosing buses that fit particular requirements and while some fleets have always pursued this the big state run transit authorities have been much more about buying large fleets of big buses. British bus maker Optare is hoping that it can convince some of the larger operators that a more compact low floor 10.8 metre city bus like its MetroCity would be a handy addition to fleets, filling the gap between


smaller on demand mini buses and the larger 12 and 13 metre single and double deckers being used more on trunk routes. This is particularly significant given increasingly compact road infrastructure in new suburbs where big full size buses struggle to negotiate the narrow thoroughfares The MetroCity is the bus that Optare found sales success in New Zealand with recently through a large 114-bus contract with Tranzit, as we wrote about in the last issue of C&B. When Optare distributor Bus Corp Oceania mentioned there was now a MetroCity demo available in Sydney we thought it would be a good idea to road test the monocoque construction compact city bus. 025


The first thing you notice with the 10.8 metre MetroCity is that this particular configuration boasts just one entrance door and is configured with 33 seats but Bus Corp NSW sales manager Francis Burdock tells us that seating and door configuration can be altered to suit operators needs and requirements. While the buses being delivered in New Zealand are Euro 6 using a Mercedes Benz driveline this Australian demo model is Euro 5 spec is powered by the reliable and wellproven Cummins 6.7 litre iSBe six-cylinder turbo diesel with SCR, which is rated at 150kW with 750 Nm of torque. The Cummins produced max power at 2300 rpm and maximum torque at 1500rpm Mated to the Cummins is Allison’s excellent 280 R automatic transmission that boasts a

lockup torque converter on third, fourth and fifth gears for improved fuel economy Fire the Optare up and the Cummins comes to life quietly and without fuss. The driver’s cockpit and it very much feels like a cockpit has everything easily to hand. The Allison push button gear selection allows the driver to punch D and then release the small red handbrake lever and you’re underway. The steering column and seat are both widely adjustable, enabling the driver to easily find a comfortable position, while the dash is directly in front, providing a number of different screens of information for the driver to process. The first thing we noted when moving off was the quiet smooth delivery of power from the Cummins and the Allison. The Allison provides easy shifts and with the 027

torque converter it moves away smoothly and without fuss.

The next thing to note is the steering, which is sharp and precise and not over boosted. The feeling is good and it is easy to position the bus on the road and know exactly where the steering wheels are pointed all the time. The steering uses a ZF system and is very good The Optare feels light and easy to drive, that maybe because it is around a tonne lighter than an equivalent body on frame bus, but perhaps it is more to do with just the way the monocoque is sprung and suspended. Certainly its ride is smooth, compliant and comfortable thanks to the Albion twin airbags on the front axle along which are coupled with leading taper leaf springs and a Panhard rod, while at the rear there is Albion four bag air suspension. C&B wheeled the Optare around the suburban streets of Smithfield and Wetherill Park in western Sydney close to BCO’s HQ, threading around the industrial and residential streets, negotiating narrow roads and the wide thoroughfares with equal aplomb and ease. Stopping power is excellent with the Wabco system ABS in combination with the electro magnetic retarder, pulling the bus up with supreme safety and efficiency. With BCO sales manager Francis Burdock on board, he was quick to point out that the MetroCity can be configured in a range of ways with various layouts for wheelchair passengers or in a variety of seating options. For instance in New Zealand Tranzit has ordered both 10.1 and 10.8 metre MetroCity variants for its requirements and Burdock believes that some operators in Australia will favour the shorter variant others will go for the 10.8 metre.


Versatility is clearly the key and MetroCity offers plenty of versatility and according to BCO it is eminently easy to service and maintain, no doubt added to by the Cummins Allison driveline which promises pretty trouble free operation. Driving the MetroCity we were able to keep an eye on our efficiency performance on the instrument screen with ‘bar graph’ readout showing various aspects of driving efficiency. It shows fuel economy, harsh and sudden braking and a number of other measures to gauge the driver’s performance. Thankfully on our drive our performance was exemplary with all green and no yellow or red bars indicating poor performance, but in a relatively easy drive and no schedules to meet it was easy to make the green bars light up. The other factor to remember is that the one tonne advantage the monocoque offers, allows potential added payload and or reduced fuel consumption by its very nature. Optare has certainly burst on to the bus scene with a great deal of enthusiasm and is trying hard to fight its way on to selection panel lists which is never an easy task. It strikes us as being kind of ironic, given that Optare’s forebear was of course Leyland, which totally dominated public transport purchasing in Australia up until the late 1970s. Having said that the new Optare is very different to the old Leyland we all used to ride to school on and with this new high tech monocoque construction, strong drive lines and components and excellent build quality demonstrates just how far they have come and how good they are. Any bus operator would be silly not to at least consider Optare on the purchasing list. 029

Industry People

THE WAY Volvo is the leading brand in the Australian bus industry, easily outstripping its rivals in the market thanks to its long established recipe of efficiency, reliability, good running costs and service. As the bus industry faces the challenges presented by new technology, electromobility and autonomous vehicles, Volvo has given itself a major advantage by appointing a new general manager for its Bus operation in Australia, who arguably has more knowledge and exposure to these future technologies than anyone else in the local industry. Editor Peter Barnwell sat down for a chat with the talented Lauren Downs to see where things are headed.




ou could say that Lauren Downs has a strong commitment to Volvo Bus and you would be 100 per cent correct. Downs’ career so far has been fully entrenched with the Swedish based global bus maker, spanning a number of key positions in Australia, Sweden and Singapore. In fact she joined the company straight out of the University of Wollongong, where she gained a Bachelor of Business and Marketing.

A decade later, the high achieving Downs is back in her home country and at the helm of Volvo Bus Australia after fulfilling a range of roles within the Volvo empire at various locations around the world. Hailing from the sleepy south coast town of Kiama, Lauren applied for and won a scholarship with Volvo Bus after completing her undergraduate degree, enabling her to further her qualifications within a corporate structure. The role saw her move to the head office of Volvo Bus in Gothenburg in Sweden for a number of years and then to other places where she interacted with Volvo staff around the globe gaining insight into many Volvo programs including the implementation of Euro 6 powertrains and electromobility. Lauren returned to Australia about 18 months ago after spending time in Singapore in a commercial development and marketing role. After fulfilling other roles with VGA, Lauren was earlier this year appointed general manager of Volvo Bus Australia, now based in Brisbane. Given her exposure ``at the pointy end’’, Lauren is a great sounding board for the bus industry as we found during the course of this interview.




HERE’S WHAT WE ASKED HER: In the light of broad scale electrification of route buses starting to happen around the world what does Volvo Bus have planned for Australia.


“As you know Volvo is a global leader in electromobility, with a more then 4,000 hybrid buses on the road around the world, and a number of commercial full electric routes now also operating. We are definitely well into our planning to bring this to the Australian market as well, with a project underway to develop an electric chassis, based on our proven complete product operating in Europe, that can be bodied locally here in Australia.” “We see this as being very important for our market given the stringent ADR’s, harsh operating conditions, expected long service life and requirements for local service and support. This product is about two to three years away, which seems like a long time but we believe this time is needed anyway for cities, infrastructure, depots, operators and business models to be ready for commercial electric bus operation.” Will the influence of China impact on decisions taken by Volvo Bus. “Volvo Bus is active in the Chinese market, and has a joint venture there selling locally manufactured vehicles into the local Chinese market, so we have a very good understanding of what is happening there with developments moving at a rapid pace especially in terms of electric vehicles. What we see in terms of the product and operational demands in China however are vastly different to those we see here in Australia so it is very difficult to compare the two markets and not all technologies will be directly transferable”. “Most of a key product launches actually occurred this year, for example, the launch of the new Volvo B8R with the latest Volvo Group engine as the successor to the popular Volvo B7R. As it stands today Volvo now has the largest product offering in the market, from Euro 5 to Euro 6 diesel, hybrid, rigid and articulated models, we now have all available here in Australia. The key new products to therefore watch out for is the electric chassis I mentioned earlier, and the Volvo B8L Euro 6 double deck chassis for which the global launch occurred earlier this year.” 035

Can you give us an insight into new bus safety technology and other new technology we will see in Volvo products soon? “This is an extremely exciting area for the bus industry at the moment, with a number of new technologies coming to the market. The most recent launch for us here in Australia has been the Driver Support System on Euro 6 coaches which includes Collision Warning with Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping support, as well as Volvo Dynamic Steering. These features are actually represent the steps towards an autonomous future.” At what point do you see a degree of autonomous driving becoming available in Volvo heavy vehicles in Australia and at what level if at all? “As mentioned above, safety features such as our Driver Support System actually represent steps towards autonomy


in heavy vehicles already today, and we expect to see a number of new features introduced over the coming years to continue this gradual journey to full autonomy.” “When we talk about fully autonomous buses operating in mixed traffic however, we predict this will be a very long time away, maybe ten years or more, before we see this in Australia due to complexities such as the ethics of autonomy. We predict however we will see autonomous buses much sooner in Australia in controlled environments such as in depots and segregated bus ways.” “The purpose of introducing autonomy to Volvo’s product line is to deliver tangible benefits to operators and the travelling public such as improved safety, efficiency and productivity, and not to simply be technology leaders.”



WELCOME TO GRAVEL ROADS AUSTRALIA AN ALL-NEW niche publication will be hitting your desk in early 2018 when Gravel Roads Australia arrives on the scene. Gravel roads make up almost 66 per cent of the nation’s road network with close to 600,000 kms of unsealed thoroughfares across this wide brown land. Many have low traffic volumes while others are vital arteries providing access to some of our most valuable resource assets. Building and maintaining our unsealed road network is a major industry in itself with Local Govt, Civil Contractors, Mining Companies, Forestry, Farmers and a

myriad of others all involved in ensuring these vital routes are available to industry and travellers alike. Now, for the first time, this sector will have its own journal featuring interesting stories about road construction practices, new equipment, case studies, planned projects and new techniques - in fact anything that involves the building and maintaining of gravel roads. Gravel Roads Australia will be a high quality 64-page publication, produced four times a year by Grayhaze Publishing, publisher of Transport & Trucking Australia and Coach and Bus magazine

as well as the highly successful transport website, Gravel Roads Australia will feature great writers with features and news produced by some of the best journalists in Australia with high quality photography and design. The first edition will be published in March 2018 and then in June, September and December each year. The magazine will be direct mailed to more than 3000 Local Govt Works Officers, Civil Contractors, Transport Operators, Machinery Dealers and Manufacturers as well as Mining Companies.

For advertising please contact: Grayhaze Publishing 02 9938 6408 –


It takes a special person to be a tour coach driver and Terry Sullivan owner of Terry’s Tours is just that. In part he is at various times a travel agent, host, entertainer, guide, chief cook and bottle washer, problem solver, cleaner, fountain of knowledge and medico, These are just a few of the roles Terry Sullivan undertakes as a tour meister aboard his Scania tour coach based at Tweed Heads on the southern edge of the Gold Coast. We take a look at Terry and his tour operation.



uses have been Terry’s career since moving to Tweed Heads on the NSW-Queensland border at age 19. There he met his wife Lynne, an apprentice hairdresser and soon after they married, started a family and bought their first home, which they still live in and operate the business from. As Lynne says, ‘I live in an Office not a Home’. Terry started cleaning coaches at the Surfside and Greyhound Bus Depots in Tweed Heads at age 19 and by 21 he was behind the wheel, driving one of the fleet

of buses operating on the Gold Coast then driving the regular Greyhound service from Gold Coast to Brisbane. After many years driving the ‘Hound he joined Deluxe Coaches, gaining long distance driving experience followed by a stint at a division of Tweed Bus Company named Coastliner Tours, where his tour coach driving began. His first trip was from Brisbane to Cairns and within a short time became their number one driver. Coastliner Tours was sold in 1997 and his brother-in-law suggested Terry buy his own

coach, reasoning that he’d spent his life doing all the work for someone else, so why not do it for yourself. From very humble beginnings, a note pad and pen on their kitchen bench, a few ads in local papers, Terry’s Tours began. Lynne, not only a hairdresser became a secretary. It was a tough transition as neither had any experience in running a business. It didn’t take long for the word to get around. They registered the business name in January 1998 and undertook their first one-day tour on Terry’s birthday, the 10th 039

February. They hired a coach for a few

outback ones like the Strzelecki Track are

coach. It was already five years old when

three quarter of a million-dollar coach.

months before purchasing their first Scania they bought it and though it did the job,

not for him as he doesn’t want to ruin his “Two weeks ago, I was in Cradle

it was getting a little tired so in 1999 they

Mountain in Tasmania in the snow and last

by P & D Coaches in Murwillumbah.

degrees. This job takes me everywhere.

acquired their first new Scania coach built It served them well for many years but

wasn’t up to scratch with the clientele they

week I was in Longreach and it was 35 It’s wonderful.”

Having seen so much of this vast island

were attracting so they went to Scania and

some of Terry’s favourite destinations

second new coach. It was then that Terry

through the centre of the country where

Coach Design in Brisbane and ordered their made the decision to replace his coaches every three to three and half years and is now on his seventh.

Not all his coaches have been Scania,

include Perth and Darwin where travelling there is so much to see and the Gulf of

Carpentaria at the top of Australia. “I also love Tasmania” he says.

“Tasmania is a wonderful destination you

having once bought another European

can drive all the way around it. We go over

14 months of ownership and he was

of fun to the trip.” There is little downtime for Terry and his

chassis but when an issue arose after dissatisfied with the dealer’s lack of

customer service, Terry sold it and has never looked at one since.

One of Terry’s Scania’s was an IRIZAR but

with the following coach he went back to

Coach Design as he could design his coach the way he wanted.

Terry came back to Scania adding, “I’ve

never had a problem with Scania and the

same goes for Coach Design. I am a very loyal person provided I get looked after

on the Spirit of Tasmania which adds a bit

team with brochures sent three times a

year to his 1500 Touring club members.

His team lead by Lynne, who has retired

from hairdressing after 35 years, manage bookings, confirmations, research and

create all the tours - from day tours around

the local area - to extended tours from three days to four weeks. Their year usually kicks off with a trip to Sydney for Australia Day. February 10 is Terry’s birthday so each

and both have done a good job for me.”

year he takes 50 people away.

operators, apart from his superb bronze

to buy me a present but if I take 50 people

What sets Terry’s Tours apart from other

Scania coach is its unique service.

Catering to retirees, on the Tweed and

“If I stay home I have to give the kids money

away they’ll buy me a present,” he laughs.

Terry also runs trips to Brisbane with little

Gold Coast, Terry’s Tours provides a

mini-getaways to see a theatre show, have

all his extended tours.

home the next day.

door-to-door inclusive price tours on Using small buses Terry collects each

guest as Terry calls them, (not passengers) from their home to meet up with the coach and at the end of the tour the small buses

dinner and stay overnight before heading

A tight-knit team of long term employees,

Terry credits his wife Lynne with keeping the business together.

“I’ve got the easy bit, driving the coach

takes them home.

and I guess being the face of the business,

experience. The people I carry have got

where we are today.”

“It’s all part of the Terry’s Tours

lovely homes and want to travel in style,

but if it wasn’t for Lynne, we wouldn’t be

Lynne’s sister, Susan, has worked in the

stay in four and five-star motels and travel

business for the whole 20 years – it was

“That’s the difference we provide, and our

the idea. There was Cheryl, who recently

in something like my coach”, Terry says. loyal travellers appreciate it.”

According to Terry the most enjoyable

part of the job is the people he meets. “Having someone say, ‘I remember

when we went to Cairns or went across to Darwin’, “it’s nice to think that of all

her husband Lindsay who came up with retired after 14 years. New to the team

is Nikki who co-ordinates the extended

tours and has the knowledge of a younger generation, so they are looking forward to her expertise.

Another long termer for Terry is Scania,

the things they’ve done, they remember

who has been with him since he started

makes my job very worthwhile and makes

about as a result of it being available,

something they have done with me. It life very special.”

While Terry’s wheel tracks can be found

in most roads in Australia, some rough


the business. His first Scania coach came but before acquiring it he asked around

and heard nothing but good things, so he bought it.


Terry Sullivan and his wife Lynne 041

“Scania has been with me virtually all the way and they are a beautiful product. Having the other coach for a short period reinforced not only the Scania brand but the excellent customer service they provide, which is why I have had them ever since,” says Terry. His newest coach, a 50-seater, was delivered early February 2018, just in time for his birthday tour. Inside it’s more like a luxury aircraft and features super comfortable leather reclining seats, overhead lockers and drop-down TV screens. A year of touring racks up between 80-100,000 kilometres and Terry took advantage of the Scania Maintenance Program with his coach serviced by Scania at Pinkenba in Brisbane. Terry declares the staff are fantastic, very helpful and knowledgeable. “They do a great job and it’s the little things that I appreciate, like putting down floor coverings so they don’t dirty or mark the carpet. You can tell they really care about their customers.” Terry believes that maintenance is better than repairing the coach and is a stickler when it comes to servicing the coach and keeping it in pristine condition. “If it’s going to go wrong it’s going to happen in the middle of nowhere so I do everything I can to prevent that,” he adds. Having been a long time Scania owner Terry claims the best thing about his coach is the magnificent way it drives, making touring a real pleasure. But he points out that his passengers are the most important judges and they tell him that riding in his coach is like sitting in a lounge chair going down the highway. Terry reckons his coach is more like a luxury car to drive than a 50-seat coach. “When I drive into a town the coach turns heads because it just looks fabulous and is something special. Even my guests sometimes tell me about all the people looking at the


coach, which makes me very proud.” Terry says that people often take photos of the coach and anyone with the name Terry love having their photo taken with it. “The performance is terrific with the 480-horsepower turbo diesel makes for effortless cruising even when we are full of guests, luggage and fuel, which takes us to around 21 tonnes.” But looks and comments aside Terry’s Tours is a business and has to make money and the Scania has never cost him more than he has estimated in diesel, consumables and maintenance. “I’ve never had any major problems with a Scania and I don’t skimp on anything, says Terry The fuel consumption is excellent. The only downside is that we have to carry about 80 litres of Ad-blue because, regardless of what people say, it isn’t available everywhere. I get it from my local station for a dollar a litre out of the pump. If I had to buy by the bottle it would cost me $27 for 10 litres, so I carry the extra weight, having saved on the cost of Ad Blue.” In addition to the Scania Maintenance Program, he also availed himself of the driver training program, that he calls an ‘Education program’ and found it beneficial even with 45 years of experience under his belt. “The instructor came to see me and the first thing he said was I have more experience than he did, which we laughed about. “However, I did learn a lot about all new technology in the coach, how it works and how it benefits you as a driver. It’s more driver education than training and I think it’s a good thing to do, especially for inexperienced drivers or those moving into a Scania for the first time.” Lynne has said, “this is the last Coach”, but she has said that about the last three!! We will just have to see…

At Challenger Bus and Coach, we’re introducing a new coach specifically designed and built for the Australian Bus & Coach industry and our unique conditions. The Challenger V12 – 12.3m with your choice of 53 to 57 leather TST or Styleride reclining seats, or up to 70 Styleride seats in our School Bus 2 x 3 configuration. The Challenger V10 – 10.5m with your choice of 39 to 43 leather TST or Styleride reclining seats, or up to 62 McConnell seats in our School Bus 3 x 3 configuration. Both the V10 & V12 are configurable to suit your specification – toilet or bunk equipped, more or less seating. Our flexibility will support your requirements. We’re here for the long haul. Durability and Flexibility are our key drivers. Longevity achieved with key structural items such as Stalatube Stainless Steel frame, Compressed Fibreglass stretch panels, Aluminium Bin Doors, large pressurised luggage through-bins with Stainless Steel floors and walls, British Cummins 360HP engine with US Allison Transmission and German ZF running gear. Solid and reliable. AND the optional extras you have to pay for with other companies are included with Challenger Bus and Coaches – Bull Bar, Stone Guard, Alcoa USA Black Label rims, reclining leather seats, GPS & Surveillance system – just to name a few.

For more information visit or call us on (07) 4098 2380 * Challenger Bus and Coach will be coming to New Zealand soon..!


The near pristine environment around the famed Cradle Mountain in Central Tasmania is not a place you want to sully with emissions from diesel engines, which is why a local Tasmanian bus operator has purchased some clean and enviro friendly Volvos for tourism transport in the region. Editor Peter Barnwell takes a look at the innovative operation. 044


etting an ever increasing number of tourists to one of Australia’s most iconic and remote locations has been a challenge for McDermott’s Coaches in Tasmania especially in the context of their desire to be environmentally sensitive in a ‘pristine’ environment. Tourists to world heritage listed Cradle Mountain National Park don’t want to get there on a smoky old diesel bus. That’s why Simon McDermott, owner of McDermott’s Coaches in Tasmania, has sourced a new fleet from Volvo that includes four B5LH Hybrids in conjunction to five new super-efficient diesel models to operate Cradle Mountain shuttle service. “The new Cradle Discoverer will be a

premium service helping visitors from all around the world experience Tasmania’s greatest icon the world heritage listed Cradle Mountain National Park,” he said at a launch function last month in Tasmania. After a 14 year run on a previous shuttle service contract to Cradle Mountain, Mr McDermott recently re-negotiated a contract with the Tasmanian Government for the shuttle operation that provides for more services to cater for ever growing tourist numbers. For McDermott’s Coaches, it meant more vehicles and a larger staff along with a new and larger fleet. Simon McDermott said we have been running a bus service in “Central Tassy for a long time and have a special relationship

with the area.’’ “This allow us to deliver The Cradle Discoverer which will take the visitor experience to new heights with passengers enjoying better viewing and ease of access while being embraced by the silence of these four hybrid vehicles.’’ According to Simon, The Cradle Discoverer fleet will have the ability to deal with higher loading capacity at peak times of day and run a frequent service ensuring no passenger waits any more than 15 minutes for their trip in to the park. It took a while for Mr McDermott to source the right type of bus for the job and now he is on the lookout for more, qualified staff to run the operation. “We looked at many types of vehicles 045


for the service from fully electric to conventional diesel and every other option in-between.’’ “A fully electric fleet was high on our investigation however, after a lot of research it was determined for a reliable and efficient service in a remote area, the technology and infrastructure were not quite to the level needed at this point in time.’’ “I guess this is when hybrid vehicles entered the mix, already having a great relationship with Volvo Bus Australia through other aspects of our business, we approached them to help us come up with a vehicle which lowered emissions and had the ability to work in a harsh environment reliably without the need for a massive amount of on the ground infrastructure.’’ He decided on the Volvo B5LH with a


Parallel Hybrid driveline because it has a long, proven in-service record with thousands of vehicles in operation. “They reduce emissions and deliver consistent fuel savings and high reliability. It’s a result of the complete integration of the engine and the hybrid systems – all of which are designed and manufactured by Volvo,’’ he said. The Volvo B5LH (initially known as the B5L Hybrid or the BRLH) is a lowfloor hybrid electric bus chassis for both single-decker buses and doubledecker applications and has been manufactured by Volvo since 2008. It is the basis for Volvo’s integral 7700 Hybrid full low floor city bus and its successor, the 7900 Hybrid from 2011. Serial production of the B5LH started in June 2010 and from 2013 it became

available as an articulated bus chassis. The hybrid Volvo first entered service in London, with the B5LH being is the only current double decker type in service in the UK that uses a parallel hybrid drive system. An updated version, the Volvo B5LHC, was launched in 2016, designed for highcapacity inner-city work. The B5LH is powered by Volvo’s in-house parallel hybrid drive train that couple its I-SAM motor to a 5.0-litre D5-series diesel engine. The drive train is connected to Volvo’s I-Shift automatic transmission that drives the rear axle. The whole drive train is mounted in-line at the left rear of the chassis, similar to the B7L. A lithium battery pack is mounted just behind the front left wheel, powering the I-SAM motor system. The B5LH features stop-start system that

allows its engine to cut off when the bus is stationary, and the battery is sufficiently charged. It is also able to drive in full electric mode from standstill to up to 20 kmh. In service, Volvo claims that the B5LH achieves 35 per cent improvement on fuel consumption and reduces the emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide by an equivalent amount. Data from vehicles in service show that the B5LH is demonstrating between 25 and 40 per cent of fuel consumption improvement. The B5LH has gained increasing popularity particularly with operators in areas with air quality issues. The Cradle Discoverer has been running for nearly 15 years and passenger numbers have been growing fast with the service straining to keep up with demand. “Over the past five years we have seen

a huge increase in numbers of visitors. Looking back, I remember when we first hit the 1200 passengers on the service for a day and thinking to myself we will never hit that number again. I was quickly proven wrong as 1200 soon became the norm and in the last two years 1200 has been seen as a slow day on the service.’’ “Last year on our peak days the service carried over 2200 passages into the park a day. This influx put enormous pressure on our resources and staff, but I think it is fair to say we took this in our stride and delivered.’’ “It has been challenging and difficult at times but it has also been a privilege to run the service which has played an enormous part in growing Cradle Mountain as a destination and also had a massive part in growing McDermotts Coaches into the business it is today.’’

The Cradle Discover hybrids will feature custom built bodies from Bus-Tech with quite a different seating configuration. Each vehicle is purpose built to deliver optimised viewing for the trip into the park. Simon McDermott said “We hope to see the first of the hybrids delivered in December this year. “We are really excited about them…a vehicle that will pull up and take off from stops in silence, charges its own batteries without the need for external infrastructure and significantly lower emissions, while it will also will deliver a higher passenger capacity than previous vehicles. McDermotts Coaches are the first to bring Hybrid diesel/electric buses into Tasmania and one of only a few who have implemented this technology into their bus fleet in Australia. 047

New Model


If you thought Usain Bolt was the only star sprinter in the world these days then think again, Mercedes Benz has launched the latest version of its Sprinter, a star in the mini bus market around the globe and its headed down under in the near future. Peter Barnwell takes a look at the Three Pointed Star’s latest Sprinter. 049


ercedes-Benz vans had a big month in July 2018 with three major events all happening at roughly the same time. There was a new Sprinter launched, it delivered its 25,000th minibus and a celebrated 20 years of minibus production. However the biggest story was on Benz’s new Sprinter minibus which has upped the ante on the small bus scene with a chassis that is second to none in the sector. The gestation period for new light commercial vehicles can be as long as a decade and such is the case with the current Mercedes-Benz Sprinter that has been with us for in various forms for some years. The popular van-based minibus in all permutations is in the new generation launch phase after a debut in Germany mid-July.


First cab off the rank, so to speak, will be the Sprinter Transfer minibus from Benz’s specialist bus factory in Dortmund. The new model features a `unique’ range of equipment modules bringing it into the 21st century in terms of technology, safety and efficiency. At the launch event, a focus was placed on new technology in the new model. Four variants will be available all based on Sprinter van. They are the Sprinter City, Sprinter Transfer, Sprinter Mobility and Sprinter Travel. In case you haven’t figured it out, the names stand for operations in line service, as a versatile shuttle bus, for transport of passengers with limited mobility, and for tourist transport. Taking a closer look at possibly the most

popular model, the Sprinter City 75 we see this regular service bus is 8.5 metres long, has seats for up to 38 passengers and features a special frame structure. Its bodywork conceals some new technology that will be adopted in many other Sprinter-based variants. For example, the long wheelbase of 5095mm provides the basis for a spacious low-floor platform between the axles. This can be put to flexible use with tip-up seats, wheelchair and pram bays, seating with a quick-change securing system or as standing space. Just as important is the heavy-duty rear axle, developed and manufactured exclusively for MercedesBenz minibuses. Its greater load-carrying capacity of 5.0 tonnes provides the basis for a permissible


gross vehicle weight of 6.8 tonnes. Alongside the new Sprinter City 75 is the more compact Sprinter City 45. Moving to the versatile Sprinter Transfer we see it is available in a four model lineup ranging from the 5.9-metre-long Sprinter Transfer 23 to the 7.7metre Sprinter Transfer 55, which features an extended rear end that complements the design perfectly. The Sprinter Mobility is aimed specifically at carrying passengers with restricted mobility. The compact Sprinter Mobility 23 benefits from having a permissible gross vehicle weight of just 3.5 tonnes. The Sprinter Mobility 45 commands particular attention with its raised floor added over the wheel arches. This allows two wheelchairs to stand alongside each other at the level of the rear axle.

The launch of the new minibuses will be staggered and will reflect the availability of the Sprinter. It will start later this year in Europe with the Sprinter Transfer 23 and 35, the Sprinter Mobility 23 and the completely re-engineered Sprinter City 75. The rest of the models in this series will follow next year, as will all models of the Sprinter Travel. Once the model changeover is complete, by quarter three of 2019, the product range will comprise more than 20 left-hand-drive and righthand-drive models. Celebrated at the launch event was a milestone for the little Benz buses when Busitalia took delivery of the 25 000th minibus by MercedesBenz on July 5th 2018.

It was a Sprinter City 65 K that was deployed by Busitalia Campania in the southern Italian city of Salerno. It forms part of a major order for 30 minibuses of this type. The vehicle features eye-catching two-tone paintwork in signal grey and ultramarine blue. Passengers can take their places on eight seats in the rear and two tip-up seats in the low-floor area between the axles. In addition to these there is a wheelchair bay and ample space for standing passengers. All in all, as many as 30 passengers can be accommodated in a bus just 7.0 metres in length. This minibus is fully air-conditioned as well as equipped with an enhanced heating system. It comes as 051

standard with an air-sprung rear axle, the 7G-Tronic Plus torque-converter automatic transmission and a 163hp diesel engine. The Busitalia hand over also coincided with Mercedes-Benz minibus production reaching 20 years since EvoBus began its activities in this segment by taking a significant share in the minibus manufacturer Karl Koch GmbH in Mudersbach near Siegen, thereby becoming the leader in this sector. Full acquisition of the business and the establishment of Mercedes-Benz Minibus GmbH, based in Dortmund, followed in 2004. Minibus production in Dortmund had already been gradually ramped up since 2000 and has now been completely concentrated on the plant there for the past ten years.


Extended several times in the intervening years, the plant now employs around 260 people, producing between 1200 and 1600 vehicles a year on three body-shell lines and four assembly lines. This makes Mercedes-Benz the European market leader for minibuses over 3.5 tonne gross vehicle weight rating. The minibuses these days are sold to more than 40 countries. The largest market is western Europe, but customers in Australia, South-East Asia and the Middle East also form part of the regular customer base. Apart from the specific advantages of the individual products, the minibus specialists’ recipe for success includes industrial production in Dortmund and close links to the development and

production areas for the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter as the base model. All conversion work is checked and approved by the factory. All production processes meet the same high quality standards as apply for all MercedesBenz vans. EvoBus supports minibus customers and their buses after the purchase just as intensively as it does with full-size buses. From sales, production and service to subsequent recycling – in the case of the minibuses bearing the three-pointed star, everything is handled by a single company. Australian bus operators can expect the first of a staged rollout of the new Sprinters arriving around the last quarter of 2018 with more versions arriving into early 2019.

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In what is a bigger comeback than Dame Nellie Melba, Custom Bus has gone from an insolvent shell of a company to a reborn and vibrant new operation in a new factory with a new owner, driving the company forward. Coach & Bus dropped into the new Custom factory in Sydney’s west to sit down with Scott Dunn, the man who bought the operation at the 11th hour and has turned its fortunes around in just a few months. 054


hen news broke that the Dunn Group had purchased the remnants of Custom Coaches from

administrators and would re boot as

Custom Bus, it was fair to say that the industry was taken by surprise.

No one could have picked the ambitious

The original goal was to win some

contracts and expand Telfords from a

charter operation but then the opportunity to buy Custom came along so it was a

matter of seizing the day and taking the chance and it changed Dunn’s entire business focus.

Dunn is at pains to point out that in

plan by Dunn and its CEO Scott Dunn who

buying Custom his focus has totally

Sydney operator Telfords a few years back.

to build the charter operation and to not

had already surprised many by purchasing

Under the weight of an increasing number

of, often less costly, imported, completely

switched and the new plan for Telfords is pitch for government contracts.

“My intention now is to grow Custom as a

built up buses; local producers have taken

body builder and we now have no intention

that Custom, which while long revered

contracts,” Dunn added.

a hit over the last decade. None more so and respected with a storied history that

of tendering for future government

Scott Dunn smiles when asked how

stretches back more than eight decades,

the leap into manufacturing came about.

two stints in administration in the past

situation and rang the administrator on

has had a chequered past, having suffered eight years.

So what does new owner, the Dunn

Group and in particularly CEO Scott Dunn intend to do to make Custom successful

“I was keeping an eye on the Custom

Thursday evening just eight days before he

was due to break the company up and sell the plant and equipment at auction,” said Dunn. “I had asked him if he had any buyers

again and to break out of the cycles of

for the business, and he told me no and

organisation in the past eight years.

the auction a week later, I had already

administration, which have beset the

Scott started the Dunn Group with a fleet

of seven buses, all of them used, in 2008 and the UK operation quickly grew.

“I’d worked for the family bus business,

which became a listed company and was

then taken over and we sold out, “ he said. “I was freshly divorced, living in a rented

house with a pile of debt and I decided to just go for it,” he added.

By 2013 Scott and his new wife had

built the operation in Nottingham to a fleet of more than 140 buses operating on a

mixture of local bus routes and express coach services across the UK.

Dunn, ever the ambitious and

adventurous businessman was

that it would be broken up and sold at

thought about it, done the research and had crunched the numbers and made an offer the next day,” he added.

“Blow me down if our offer was

accepted and all of a sudden I was a bus maker,” he smiled.

Telfords officially bought the Custom

business from Worrells Solvency and

Forensic Accountants on the 16 March

this year, with the administrators saying the Telfords offer provided the highest

return to creditors and achieved the aim of saving the manufacturing business,

which was important and integral to the Australian economy.

Running a bus company is quite different

rueing the lack of growth opportunities

from running a bus body manufacturing

in Australia in 2012, he happened to

principles apply.

in the UK bus market. After holidaying notice an ad in the Financial Times in

operation but Dunn believes the same

Make the business more efficient, use

the UK in 2013 announcing tenders for

the latest machinery, develop new products

Dunn applied but narrowly missed out

and deliver the product faster.

public transport bus contracts in NSW. on the tender but realised he needed a

presence in Australia if he hoped to win such contracts.

“I rarely read the paper let alone the

Financial Times and I just happened to

notice this tiny ad, it was pure luck that

and make sure they are price competitive

To that end the reboot of Custom started

with a clean sheet if you like. Dunn found a

new factory facility in St Marys and had just three weeks to move the operation from the old Villawood factory to the new location. It was by all reports a mammoth task.

triggered the entire situation”.

The new facility was a bare shed, big

operations to buy and It was a year later

for bus body manufacturing, including a

That led Dunn to look at Australian bus

when the Dunn Group purchased Telfords in May 2014.

but lacking many of the things needed

crane, three-phase power, compressed air,

welding bays and all of the other necessary 055


requirements. All of that including removing the overhead crane from Villawood and moving it to St Marys, having engineers build a frame for it and installing it, which all happened in record time. The first task was moving all of the parts, componentry and raw materials and then the 23 unfinished buses sitting in the old factory. Another major job was putting in the racking and storage to hold the parts and materials. With a great deal of can do attitude Dunn had bus body manufacturing back up and running at the new facility inside seven weeks. A remarkable performance and one that points to this dynamic Englishman’s drive and ability. A re think in the way they do things has seen Custom trim the build time for a bus body from two or three months to just 20 days according to Dunn. “We have split production into ten phases and each phase takes two days, so that means that a bus will take 20 days to build which is up to a quarter of the time it used to take,” said Dunn. As well as purchasing the Intellectual Property, all the assets and trading names from the administrator, Dunn has also invested in people. A small number of the original Custom staff came over to the new enterprise but Dunn has recruited hard and has he says reaped the benefit of the new location with a plentiful supply of well skilled labour. The company has around 120 working at the moment. “If there is a margin in job you will make money, the reality was the at the old management was not managing its people properly and there was too much fat, its all about managing people properly and about controlling costs,” he said. One of the first things Dunn did was to change all the pay structures and interestingly actually gave workers a pay

rise to promote better productivity and pride in the job. “Efficiency has picked up and we have reduced production hours from around1400 man hours per bus to just under 1000 hours,” said Dunn. By our calculations that alone has pulled around $20,000 out of the build cost with more efficiency to come according to Dunn. Custom’s rebirth and its new location will be a boon for apprentices with Dunn determined to train tradesmen and women to create the skilled workforce the company will need, hopefully for a long time into the future. In the short term the new Custom has 20 apprentices about to start their training with the company. Many of the experienced staff who have come across to the new operation started their careers as apprentices with the old Custom business. Custom’s newly appointed NSW sales manager, Rob Lanteri is a prime example of this as he did his ‘time’ at Custom as an apprentice in the late 1990s and has now re-joined the company as its sales manager, having moved there from a senior bus role with Scania. Down on the factory floor there is a buzz at the new Custom Bus, workers are hard at it fabricating the side frames on jigs and the roof panels before they’re brought together before being lifted and lowered on to chassis, which have already been prepped for their arrival. The fit out then commences with components and panels fabricated in separate areas alongside the L shaped line. New computer controlled laser cutting machines have joined others that came across in the big move along with jigs and frames that enable the workers to produce ancillary wiring looms, panels, complex door units, window frames, seat mounts, in fact the whole gamut of bus body manufacturing.


The factory is still a work in progress with a lot more infrastructure and shelving still to come. When Coach & Bus visited the operation a crew was installing a new spray booth alongside the two giant bus paint booths already installed and working. The new booth is for painting various panels off the bus for greater efficiency and quality. As well as that there is more racking and shelving to come and various improvements to improve productivity. Dunn’s background as a mechanic and someone who has been around buses all his working life gives him the technical knowledge to understand the process and as much as possible the goal is to vertically integrate and produce as much as they can in house. “If we had not bought Custom, all this would have been lost, the skill and expertise and as far as I can tell this is the only full scale bus body maker left in Sydney or NSW,” said Scott Dunn. “Its great to see the skills and the quality that our people are producing and that


is the thing we are producing real things and I am very proud of that,” said Scott. He has built bridges to some of the loyal suppliers who had their fingers burnt with the old Custom and believes it is important economic flow on into NSW and the industries surrounding and serving the operation. “We are building something here, we are making something and we should be proud of that and we are,” said Scott. So far since moving into the new operation Custom has turned out 40 buses and Dunn says it is on track to produce 110 buses in the first full year under the new regime, that is just shy of the 120 the old operation turned out in the year before it went into administration. There is a sparkle in Dunn’s eye when he starts talking about future plans which he says are extensive and even more ambitious. “We’ve got some big plans, we are not sitting back and waiting for it all to happen we are at it 110 per cent and determined

to make this work,” said Dunn. Dunn has set himself a punishing schedule in running Telfords and the new Custom. He rises early and is at Telfords before dawn each day working through to around noon when he heads across to Custom where he works through into the evening. On top of that he heads back to the UK every eight weeks for a week to oversee his English operation. The 44-year-old Dunn exudes confidence and energy and his determination is evident in everything he says. While many, including the administrator, had pretty much written Custom off six months ago, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that the company has risen out of the ashes and is now a stronger, more nimble and far more competitive operation than ever before. If what Scott Dunn has achieved in a few months can be continued and grown, then the other bus body makers and those importing fully build buses will have a bit to be worried about.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN – CUSTOM’S CHEQUERED PAST In 1935 Stanley Hillsdon founded Cycle Components Manufacturing Company (CCMC) in Guildford, having been involved in the manufacture of bicycles since 1911. In 1946 the company won the contract to manufacture reversible seats for Sydney’s trams. In 1955 CCMC successfully tendered to body125 single deck Leyland Royal Tiger Worldmaster buses for the NSW Department of Government Transport. Jack Violet, Hillsdon’s nephew by marriage, was employed to oversee operations as Bus divisional manager in May 1956, an event that would lead to Violet’s long history with the company. The company bodied its first bus for a private operator, a Leyland Comet for Rowes Bus Service in In April 1958 CCMC. Four years later control of CCMC passed from Hillsdon to his nephew Jack Violet and at some point the business was renamed Custom Coaches Manufacturing Company. The business thrived and in 1967 it entered into an agreement with Melbourne bodybuilder, WA Newnham & Sons which saw Custom supply frames and other components while at the same time it was also supplying components to Brisbane bodybuilder Watt Brothers and later in the 1970s to Perth’s Howard Porter. In May 1981 Custom purchased the Smithfield Bus & Coach Works business

from the Bosnjak family. CCMC largely focussed on building bodies for private bus operators and apart from a few forays into government bus supply, including half a dozen MAN buses for Canberra’s ACTION (thanks largely to its take over of Smithfield Bus and Coach Works and a contract inherited as a result) and around 19 Scanias for the NSW State Rail Authority in 1982, it had a totally private bus company focus from 1958 until1995. In 1988 CCMC purchased WA Newnham in Melbourne and changed the name to Newnham Custom but this operation was closed in 2001. CCMC opened a plant at Arundel on the Gold Coast in 1995. CCMC joined a consortium with Jim Bosnjak and John Hewson in 1999 to purchase the remnants of the famous PMC bus building operation following the collapse of Clifford Corporation. It renamed it Australian Bus Manufacturing, basing its operation in Adelaide. A year later CCMC bought out its consortium partners in Australian Bus Manufacturing rebranded its operation as Custom Coaches in 2004. After years of spurning government supply contracts and tenders Custom changed its course in 1998 and bodying buses for the NSW State Transit Authority, a break of 37 years. Over the next 15 years it built more than 1,280 for the NSW government transport authority.

Custom had remained largely in the control of the Hillsdon Violet clan and in 2002, Mark Burgess, the great-nephew of Stanley Hillsdon, became CEO of the Custom. Three years later in 2005, Mark Burgess, his brother Paul and long-term business partner, Chris Absalom, purchased the business from Jack Violet. By 2009 annual production was in excess of 400 buses and the company achieved the milestone of producing 15,000th locally built bus body. Having been in family control since 1935 Custom was purchased by British bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis. It was the start of tumultuous times for Custom after decades of relative stability. Custom Coaches was placed in administration in May 2014 only to be purchased back by Mark Burgess and Allegro Funds three months later and the company was renamed Custom Bus. Tough times followed and Custom Bus rolled on for three and a half years before again being placed in administration in February 2018. It was this second corporate failure that saw the remnants of the company scooped up by the Dunn Group, which has rebooted it as Custom Bus with a new ABN, a new identity and a new ethos with a new factory in St Marys where its full steam ahead for the future. 059

Company Car


Jaguar has had a renaissance thanks to the investment and recapitalisation that has come from its current owners, the Tata Group from India and like every luxury maker on the planet the famed British marque now builds SUVs alongside its elegant sports cars and sedans. Some may not like the thought but after a week with the Jaguar F Pace we came away impressed with this endearing and rewarding machine.


here was a time when Jaguar was a maker of beautifully designed sedans and sports cars, automotive sculpture with elegant lines and flowing forms that made them look fast even when standing still. You can count the likes of the Mk2, the XJ sedans, the XK sports coupes and of course the E-Type, the car Enzo Ferrari once described as the most beautiful car ever designed. Jag still makes nice cars like the beautiful F-Type fastback and convertible and the elegant XE. XF and XJ saloons but like every brand in the world SUVs are the must have and Jaguar is no exception. For heavens sake even Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini and Maserati have SUVs, is nothing sacred. Well I suppose it all very well to rue such a change in the automotive landscape but if that is what people want then that is what you have to deliver. We had not had the chance to drive any type of Jag for some years so stepping into the Narvik black Jaguar F-Pace R Sport 25d, was a welcome revelation. The 25d is the latest engine option for the F-Pace with a 2.0 litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel in the Jag SUV, is what the company describes as an ‘Ingenium’ diesel engine and it does a very good job of moving the Jag’s svelte but fairly hefty mass which tips the scales at a shade under 1800kg. The Jag’s two litre turbo diesel pumps out 177kW of power and a whopping 500Nm of torque. The torque is what really hits you with a flow coming on from as low as 1500 rpm helping the F-Pace to lift her skirts and really get moving in a way that meets the old company motto, ‘grace, space and pace. The eight-speed auto is superbly matched to the diesel and can be sifted manually if required producing crisp changes that are almost imperceptible. It is a great gearbox indeed. However it is quite an economical engine and very responsive making city traffic easy as well as making country driving a relaxing cruise with torque on tap to make overtaking an hill climbing a doddle. Our fuel figures after about 350 km behind the wheel of the F Pace saw us record an average of 7.4 L/100km across a mix of city and country driving, a very reasonable figure for a heavy luxury SUV. While it is as heavy SUV the Jag doesn’t feel heavy and in fact is quite nimble and responsive more so than just about any SUV we have driven in years. 061

The Jag’s big 19 inch alloy wheels shod with 255/55 R 19 tyres pin it to the road with huge amounts of grip and the flat and balanced handling of the Jag makes it a pleasure to punt through a twisty section or just cruise up the freeway, although with those big low profile tyres the ride quality can be a bit on the harsh side but nothing that will send you to the chiropractor. The F Pace is an all wheel drive meaning power is generally fed to the rear wheels but is apportioned to the front when grip is lacking. It works well and seamlessly adding to the sure-footed feeling the Jag has whether the road is slippery or dry. Outside the R-Sport version has an attractive body kit adding to what we believe is one of the prettier and more eye catching SUV designs going around. It may not appeal to Jag purists but when it comes to the new paradigm that is the dominant SUV breed it is near the top of the class. Inside the Jag the leather seats and trim especially the soft feel leather trimmed steering wheel adds to the luxurious and welcoming feel that is every bit as exclusive and special as any Jaguar sedan or sports car that has ever seen the road. The dash is well laid out and delivers lots of useful and customisable screens and info and the car we drove also featured a very good head-up display, which is the first we have ever used that works with our polarized Ray Bans as a result of using a laser system apparently. However while it does give the driver some great road and


navigation info it does come at a hefty $2650 premium. The jury is out on the rotary gear selector, which is a little slow for our liking but in fairness is a point of difference with other luxury marques, although its Range and Land Rover siblings and Jag sedans also feature it. The Jag boasts a very impressive large 10 inch centre touchscreen which has a range of information and features although sometimes we think that vehicle designers sometimes forget that the driver piloting this car is often travelling down a motor way at over 100 km/h and a large screen with some many options is not all that easy to operate while piloting the car. That said we generally did not have too much trouble with it and it does look. The audio system is spectacular and fills the cabin with pure and full sound through its 11 speakers and makes a fast drive in the country that much more of a pleasure. When it comes to the Grace and Space part of that old Jag motto the F Pace interior has both of them in spades. The leather seats are encompassing and supportive and a few hours at the wheel in those seats is a pure pleasure. The overall feel is spacious and gracious with enough of a hint of jag sportiness to market it the perfect mix for an upmarket SUV. The versatility of the F Pace design is underlined with the enormous lad area behind the lift up powered tailgate boasting 650 litres of space or a whopping 1740 litres when the rear seats are folded down

however despite that size the spare is only a restricted size space saver spare which in our opinion is major handicap in a country like Australia in an SUV, no matter how sophisticated and well mannered they are, sorry we need full size spares in this country. In terms of value the F Pace could have a few more standard features and a few less high priced options in what is a vehicle that will set you back around $90,000 but you can forgive some of it with the superb dynamics and performance the Jag delivers. We just feel that things like the heads up display and adaptive cruise probably should be standard but that is our opinion. The Jaguar F-PACE 25d R-Sport is a very impressive SUV in very way and although it is closely related to its Land Rover and Range Rover counterparts it is individual and you’d never know it had so much DNA from its blood relatives. It is nimble fun and rewarding to drive if you want to push it and is sophisticated and luxurious when pottering through traffic and around town. We are fans and if you want a really great performing luxury SUV that has a sporty edge the F pace R Sport should be on your shopping list. Price: $87,925 (plus on-road costs) Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel Output: 177kW/500Nm Transmission: Eight-speed automatic Fuel: 5.8L/100km (ADR Combined); 7.4L/100km (as tested) Safety Rating: Five-star ANCAP (2017).

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064 Money Matters



t’s been a long time since I’ve looked at the issue of rising home loan interest rates. The last time the Reserve Bank hiked rates was back in 2010. What many home owners are facing today is higher home loan repayments resulting from lender-led rate rises. Westpac and a number of smaller lenders recently announced ‘out of cycle’ rate rises. Predictably, other big banks followed. It means they have jacked up their rates even though the Reserve Bank’s cash rate has remained on hold at 1.5%. There are ways to navigate rising interest rates. What’s different this time around is that many banks have tightened their lending criteria. So while it’s always worth checking to see that your home loan rate is competitive, the solution may not be as simple as refinancing to a mortgage with a cheaper rate. On the plus side, vast numbers of Australian home owners are ahead with their home loan repayments. This can provide a buffer against higher rates. However, the old saying ‘watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves’ rings true in a climate of interest rate hikes. Some Australians may struggle to meet their debt commitments – be it a home loan, personal loan or credit card. Coming up with higher repayments is never easy but one of the best ways to find the extra cash is to revisit your household budget. A budget has a way of confronting us with how much we have earned, often with very little to show for it. Yet this is exactly what


makes budgets so worthwhile – they jolt us into taking better control of our money. Putting together a sensible, real-life family budget is not hard and you certainly don’t need to account for every last cent. It does mean committing a few hours to work through an initial budget, but after this all that should be required is a bit of finetuning throughout the year. You may be amazed by what your budget reveals, like how much you are spending on small items that have a way of adding up – such as takeaways or Uber rides. This is all money that you are putting into someone else’s pocket rather than your own, and if you can cut back on these purchases you could probably save yourself hundreds of dollars each year. That could be enough to manage the increase in your home loan repayments without too much impact on your hip pocket or lifestyle. On another subject, that of investing it is my philosophy to Invest the way that suits you because if there’s one thing experience has taught me, when something becomes too hard or too time consuming, we’re more likely to give it away. Your attitude to money can shape the way you choose to invest. Some people have a keen interest in building a vast pot of money for its own sake. For others, money is all about what it provides – the ability to make choices about how you live your life. We all need to eat and pay bills, but money lets us enjoy the fun stuff like family holidays and personal hobbies be they golf, surfing, or, in my case, sailing.

Another place we are all different is whether money is a passion or just a vague interest. You may for instance, be fascinated by the process of selecting shares. But that is too time consuming for others, myself included. If you love to spend a heap of time researching the sharemarket, good on you. I am quite happy to hold shares like BHP individually, but to be frank I have neither the time nor interest in keeping an eye on the shares of the future – small companies, which may become big companies in time. Nor would I pretend I can select and manage international shares without a lot of time and effort. This is what I love about managed funds. Of course, I want exposure to all these shares. And a professionally managed share portfolio lets me get the benefit of these investments while I am out sailing. How good is that? Fees are a drag on investment performance, so this is something to watch for with managed funds. But it’s the same if you go for DIY. The cost shouldn’t just be measured in terms of direct expenses like brokerage. You also need to work out the time you spend managing your investments (tax time can be especially challenging when either you or your accountant sort out your tax position). The bottom line is, if, like me, you want to do some direct investing yourself and still use professional fund managers, no problem. If you want professional managers to do it all for you, again, no problem. It’s all about investing in the way that suits you best. And it doesn’t have to be hard. Paul Clitheroe is a founding director of financial planning firm ipac, chairman of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and chief commentator for Money magazine. Visit: for more information.

Profile for Transport Publishing Australia

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Coach & Bus Issue 38  

In this issue of Coach & Bus we take a look at the operation of Apple City Tours in Orange, we look at a Fuso Rosa operation and an operato...